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LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin.
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has blamed the perennial failure of the Federal government to meet its agreement with the union on lack of courage to free itself from the grip of external forces controlling education the sector among others.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin during a day of tributes organised for a member of the Unilorin 49+, Professor Olatunde Oduleye, the ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said: “FG reneging on the agreement with the union had made life uncomfortable and miserable for Nigerians.
“Why does the Federal government renege on agreements?
“It’s because Nigeria is still in the firm grip of IMF and World Bank. That’s why government reneges on agreements. The envelope system that they use for budgeting always limit them to addressing the needs of Nigerian people because what they come up with as priority area are never the priority areas for Nigerians. Nigerians need quality and affordable education. They need opportunities to revamp facilities and infrastructure to address rot and decay.
” It’s unfortunate that the ruling class in Nigeria cannot summon enough courage to raise themselves from the grip of the external forces that are controlling economy, education, health and all other sectors, thereby making life uncomfortable and miserable to Nigerians.”
According to him “in 2013, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jonathan government, which says we needed a total sum of N1.3trn to restore our university system. That was only implemented in the bridge. After a release of the first year, we’ve been on government’s neck to make additional releases in line with timeline attached to release of those funds. Now, those funds have armstrong process of restoration. You can imagine what would have happened to the system. The little we got had made some difference. That’s why you’ve seen some universities coming up. If that process had been allowed to go on, by now, we’d have seen some significant improvement in public universities in Nigeria,” he said.
Talking on the recent discussion with the Federal government the ASUU president said that the union needed evidence that the N25bn of earned academic allowances had been released by the FG.
“We need evidence that this has been mainstreamed in the 2019 budget. We hope government would be faithful on its promises. We’ll continue with the negotiation. No reason to discontinue with the negotiation as President Muhammadu Buhari enters for a second term. However, the process has not been going smoothly as expected. We owe our members that responsibility to push on so that we can have arrangement that can improve our university system, make it affordable and available for Nigerians. Our goal is to come out with a huge agreement that can stand the test of time and reposition the Nigeria university system for global reckoning. We hope government will continue to cooperate with us to achieve that goal,” he said.
The union, which also demanded an apology from the University of Ilorin over alleged deprivation meted on members of Unilorin 49+, said that the lecturers had been vindicated.
“ASUU demanded apology from the University of Ilorin because Professor Tunde Oduleye and others were vindicated. They were fighting for justice. The case went as far as the Supreme Court. And for depriving them for decades, the university should sit down and do the introspection that is expected of rational human beings. That we cannot continue like this attacking the best and brightest, and condoling mediocrity. A system where something like that is obtained is doomed to collapse. The university should redress the issue of the 49+ lecturers. For once, let’s have peace at the university. The hallmark of a university is to challenge the orthodoxies and break new grounds. And that’s when you can extend the frontiers of knowledge. Our world thrives on interrogations, criticisms and self-criticism. Without that, there’s no ideal university environment. Unilorin should be given the leverage to operate like other public universities.”